Up to 15% of Americans have gallstones — hard deposits of cholesterol that form in your gallbladder. In many cases, gallstones don’t cause symptoms, but they can cause pain and other issues when they block your bile ducts. The physicians at Digestive Disease Care diagnose and treat gallstones at their six New York offices in Lake Success, East Setauket, Mineola, and Hicksville in Long Island, and Forest Hills and Jamaica in Queens. For expert gallstone treatment, call Digestive Disease Care or schedule a consultation online today.
Gallstones are hardened deposits of either cholesterol or bilirubin and calcium salts that form in your gallbladder. Gallstones range in size — some as small as a grain of sand and others as large as a golf ball. You might have one large gallstone, a mixture of several large and small stones, or hundreds of tiny gallstones.
Common signs of gallstones include:
Fatty or fried foods might aggravate your symptoms. A flare-up of symptoms usually only last a couple of hours. Gallstones can lead to severe complications when left untreated, so you should make an appointment at Digestive Disease Care if you have any of these symptoms.
Gallstones form when you have too much cholesterol or bilirubin in your bile. Cholesterol is a fatty substance produced by your liver to help your body make hormones, and vitamin D. Bilirubin is a waste product produced when your liver breaks down old red blood cells.
Your risk of developing gallstones increases if you:
A family history of gallstones makes it more likely you will develop the condition. Your risk of gallstones also increases with age.
In addition to a physical exam, the doctors at Digestive Disease Care use blood tests, ultrasound, CT scans, and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) to evaluate your gallbladder. ERCP combines X-rays with endoscopy to examine the tubes that drain your gallbladder, liver, and pancreas.
After assessing your condition, your physician discusses your treatment options with you and answers your questions to help you make the best choice for your health. If your problem is mild, your doctor might recommend adjusting your diet to cut down on fat and extra cholesterol and monitoring your gallbladder to see if the stones increase in size or number.
If you have large gallstones that block your bile ducts, your doctor might recommend shockwave lithotripsy or surgery to break up or remove your gallstones. Advances in minimally invasive surgery techniques have made gallstone removal a standard procedure.
If you’re concerned about gallstones, call Digestive Disease Care, or make an appointment online today.